“America’s Got Talent” aired the intense first round of Judge Cut performances last night (July 17) on NBC. Actor and comedian Ken Jeong served as a celebrity guest judge alongside Simon Cowell, Howie Mandel, Heidi Klum and Mel B. Cuts were deep as 18 acts performed and only seven moved on to the live quarter-finals. Several acts upped their game this week, with one of those earning Ken Jeong’s Golden Buzzer in an emotional and unforgettable moment.
Junior New System and Us The Duo Shine
All-male dance crew Junior New System opened the show with a jaw-dropping, explosive routine that featured a “We Will Rock You,” “Let’s Get Loud” medley. The boys were right-on-point with their synchronicity and smooth, effortless moves. They astounded everyone, especially Mel B, who screamed throughout the performance – and really loudly when they switched their sneakers for six-inch gold stilettos and did backflips in them! Their energy was boundless and infectious, and we were thrilled when they eventually earned a pass-through to the next round.
Married couple Us The Duo has already established a large, global fan base. All the judges loved their “No Matter Where You Are” audition except Howie, who thought they sounded too "coffee house." In a recent AXS interview, Carissa said they welcomed all the feedback and would use Howie’s “no” to push themselves and challenge themselves, heading into the next round.
Heidi asked them what they’ve been up to since their last appearance on the show and they happily revealed they are pregnant with their first child. This time, Michael played piano as they sang another original song called “(Stop) Just Love.” Their performance was magical and filled with their signature lush harmonies and vibrant joy. Once again, the judges were split on their opinions and Howie was still reluctant and unsure of their songwriting skills. Simon disagreed and told the beaming duo that he loved them. They also survived the cuts and will perform in the quarter-finals.
Mochi, Lily Wilker, Oscar and Pam Garner Mixed Reviews
Diablo artist Mochi returned to dazzle the judges and audience once again with his captivating light show. He danced and twirled with Diablo against a changing, light-filled backdrop and it was brilliant. Animal impressionist Lily Wilker followed up her farm animal routine by impersonating jungle animals. She is so cute, and for just being 11-years-old, she has so much stage presence. Singing dog act Oscar and Pam followed. Mel B just couldn’t connect with them and annoyed Simon when she pressed her red “X.” Mochi is the only one of this group who survived the cuts, with Simon telling him there’s no one who does the Diablo quite like him.
Voices of Hope Stun and Aaron Crow Scares Heidi
“How Far I’ll Go” from Moana may be one of the most beautiful movie theme songs ever. But, there’s something even more special about it when a children’s choir sings it. When Voices of Hope did their first audition, everyone loved their youthful joy and energy. But, Simon said they needed to rehearse more if they came back. They obviously took his advice and smashed their performance. They ultimately delivered a tear-inducing rendition of the sweeping anthem, which prompted Ken Jeong to smash his Golden Buzzer, sending them straight through to the live shows. It was such a triumphant, emotional moment and the collective look of joy on these kids’ faces was priceless!
Props need to be given to all the AGT judges when they willfully take the stage upon a contender’s request. This week, danger act Aaron Crow asked Heidi and Ken to join him on stage. Ken was terrified before they even began and then when it was clear he intended to shoot an apple off a spinning turntable on Heidi’s head with an arrow, Heidi was visibly frightened as well. He amazed everyone when he shot it straight through and Heidi returned to her judging seat and thanked him for not killing her. We can’t blame Simon when he told Aaron he would not help him out on stage if he made it to the next round. Looks like Simon’s declaration will be tested because Aaron is going through to the quarter-finals.
Christina Wells and Patches Deliver Delightful Performances
Christina Wells blew everyone away with her “Never Enough” performance from “The Greatest Showman.” She is arguably the most powerful singer among the solo vocalists this season on AGT. Her raw, natural talent is awe-inspiring, and we’re so thrilled she is going through to the next round.
Charismatic young rapper Patches performed another original rap about how “fast” his life has been since his AGT performance. It’s impossible not to love his sweet, sunny personality and he really does a great job delivering a rap. Sadly, he didn’t make the cut, as the level of talent is so high this season and tough choices must be made. We hope he presses forward to pursue his self-professed dream of becoming a Broadway star. He has enough talent and with perseverance, he can do whatever ever he sets his mind to.
Duo Transcend Has a Dangerous Mishap
The high-flying stunts by Duo Transcend are amazing, but scary to watch. This week, they did a series of flips and catches against a backdrop of fire. In one moment when Tyce was blindfolded, he was supposed to catch Mary but she slipped through his hands and thankfully, landed on the pad below them, unharmed. Making this kind of mistake had to be scary and frustrating for them, as the stakes are so high in the competition. However, the judges were kind and praised them for what they did well and ultimately, they will join the other quarter-finalists in the next round.
“America’s Got Talent” airs on Tuesdays at 8 p.m. ET/5 p.m. PT on NBC.